Jews in the News: Pauly Shore, Jerry Stiller and Jason Alexander

Shore and Santa

I’ve never been a fan of PAULY SHORE, 46. But the fact that Showtime picked-up a documentary about him (“Pauly Shore Stands Alone”) intrigues me. Maybe the serious side of Shore will be more interesting than his comedy. The publicity release for the documentary, which was directed by Shore, says: “Tracks [him] as he embarks on a stand-up tour across the Midwest while grappling with aging, fading fame and his relationship with his mother, Comedy Store founder MITZI SHORE, 84, who has Parkinson’s. Unlike his 2003 directing debut 'Pauly Shore Is Dead,' the new documentary peels back the curtain on the raw, more serious side of Shore’s life on the road.“ Premieres the evening of Dec. 4. Many encores)

I usually don’t mention any of the veritable blizzard of XMAS specials that begin around Thanksgiving. But this one is different. “How Murray Saved Christmas” is an animated special, with some musical numbers, that will be shown on NBC on Friday, Dec. 5 at 8PM. The special is from a best-selling 2004 book of the same name by MIKE REISS, 54, a principal writer of “The Simpsons.” Here’s the “official” plot description: “When Santa’s knocked out cold by a Jack-in-the-Boxer’s walloping punch, Jewish deli owner Murray Kleiner (voiced by JERRY STILLER, 87) reluctantly agrees to take his place. The suit doesn’t fit, Murray smells a bit like pickles, and there’s no way he can remember the names of all those reindeer. But with the help of a pushy elf (Sean Hayes) and an eager-to-believe young boy, Murray finds out that even though he’s not big enough to fill Santa’s suit, he’s got more than enough heart to get the job done.”  Murray” features JASON ALEXANDER, 55, as the voice of “Doc Holiday.” This wryly amusing character is a physician who treats famous holiday icons (like Santa and the Groundhog Day Groundhog).

At the Movies

Opening on Dec. 5, is “The Homesman,” a rare 19thC. Western that focuses on the often-difficult lives of women living on the frontier. Directed and co-written by Tommy Lee Jones, the film stars Hilary Swank as Mary Cuddy, a former teacher from New York state who has done pretty well financially in Nebraska. But she is racked by depression and no man is interested in her because she is viewed as ugly or very plain. Then, three local women suffer various traumas that cause them to have mental breakdowns and Cuddy volunteers to take them, by horse wagon, to Iowa where a local minister and his wife (John Lithgow and Meryl Streep) have agreed to take them in and help them. (One of the women is played by Streep’s daughter, Grace Gummer). During the difficult trip, Cuddy and the women meet a low-down drifter, George Biggs (Jones). No more “spoilers”, except to mention that HAILEE STEINFELD, 17 (“True Grit”), appears near the end of the film as a possible love interest for the much older Briggs.

Robert Klein on Jewish Funerals

Last October, Jay Leno was given the prestigious Mark Twain Award for his comedy career and most PBS stations showed the ceremony last week. No doubt, it will be repeated several times in the next year and the ceremony is viewable on-line. ROBERT KLEIN, 72, worked in some stand-up shtick as he praised Leno. This bit tickled me:

“Jay will never retire. You’ll never see him in Florida with an aluminum thing under his chin. Anyway, I have a beef with Florida. I sent two, vital, 65-year-old parents to South Florida and 30 years later they were dead! What the hell is going on down there? Anyway, I am feeling my mortality. And I am a few years older than you, Jay, about 7 or 8. One thing I am hopeful about. Jews bury quickly. We don’t fool around. No wakes or anything—5 showings like in Vaudeville. A Jew dies, ‘Zoom! Into the Ground! ‘What the hell happened to Irving?’ ‘He was here a second ago!’ I mean there’s no wasted time. A Jew dies at noon—‘Call the relatives in Phoenix! The funeral is a 2.’!  There could be some Talmudic philosophic reason. I don’t know. Maybe it’s get on with life. Maybe let’s remember you as you were. To tell you the truth, the older I get, around my relatives I’m afraid to take a nap lest I be buried prematurely. PJB---‘Premature Jewish Burial’ is a real epidemic thing in America. As a matter-of-fact, “60 Minutes” was going to do a story on it. But MIKE WALLACE dies and disappeared quickly. Couldn’t find him.”


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